I Give You My Word


I’m very good at remembering quotes, but during this difficult time I find myself mumbling inside my thoughts, with a constant headache, and not remembering authors, titles or quotations word for word as I usually do. But I’ve retained their lessons. Earlier today, I recalled the wisdom of an old woman in a story. She told a boy that he could take back an apple or a piece of dry meat, but to never try to take back his word. People might forgive you for fruit or meat, but after violating your own words they will never trust you again.

The old woman and the boy have been swimming in my mind… You see, many people are unhappy with the kind of funeral service we’ve chosen for my baby brother. I’ve heard it all: “cremation is unnatural,” “if you really loved him, you would do better…”

My brother asked to be cremated. When I was in the Marine Corps, and a will was a necessity, my family and I discussed our final wishes. My father’s wording was always the funniest, and I’m glad for it because it is making me giggle right now—thank you, Papi. He said, “I’ve lived in New York for too long, and I love the Dominican Republic. Burn me up, and spread my ashes between my two countries from a plane high in the sky.” I suggested that, perhaps, we could leave half the ashes in the US and the other half in DR, for I doubt the plane dumping would be all that safe or environmentally appropriate.

I’ve been the one taking care of my little brother’s funeral arrangements. But everybody has at least three opinions about how things must be done. Their suggestions and criticism add to the pain, the hurt, the loss… but very few seem to understand the damage they are causing. I’m thankful for my dad, my big brother, my aunts, uncles, cousins… who support the difficult decisions. I’m super grateful to my little brother’s wife who is doing all she can to make the process as easy as one can wish.

I’m glad we are all on the same page, right now. Yesterday… okay, this morning, things were beyond hazy. There was no united front to speak of. Everybody (even I) was thinking about his or her own needs. Some continue to think that way, but thank goodness they don’t matter. When things were less than clear, I told everyone that I would turn in all the paperwork and someone else would have to take care of the logistics. I just couldn’t take back my word. My brother is gone, and I know that his soul is not in the flesh that we’ll cremate. But if I was going to take care of the rituals, then I would do what he wanted or nothing. I would not support betrayal.

I was ready to mourn my little brother alone, in my own way. To let someone else live with the responsibility of having buried him in the dark he hated so much… Now, I’m at peace because I no longer have to do that. My father, my big brother, and my brother’s wife want to honor my brother’s wishes, too. I didn’t know how much I needed to do this together, until they said that we would do what he wanted. So many blessings: I get to keep my word, my baby brother is going to get his wish, and our family is not being torn apart in the process.

I thank the universe for kept promises, and for the support of Wicked loving Darlings.
 Promise is a big word. It either makes something or it breaks everything…”

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44 comments:

  1. I'm sorry people are not being more supportive. ((HUGS)).

    Really no one's opinion counts but your brothers. He wants to be cremated so that is that. No discussion or debate.

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    1. The rumble about the inhumanity of cremation has quiet down. It's a good feeling after all the mess.

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  2. Honor you brother's wishes and all else is......what it is. Smooches, huge Squoozes and much love. What a wonderful soul you are. Oma Linda

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    1. I was just thinking that you probably witnesses a lot of this (almost) disputes during your work with the church. I know the people weren't your family, but listening to this problems, having to workout a solution... it must've been insane.

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  3. Crystal3/02/2013

    You are beautiful inside and out! I am so sorry for you and your family's loss.

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  4. What a blessing. Not only for you to have Pabelo as your brother but for him to have you as his sister.. It is wonderful that the family has come together to honor your brothers wishes. Much comfort and peace to you my dear.

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    1. He was a bundle of trouble, but his good nature made you forget the times when he pissed you off. It's funny, and perhaps a bit ridiculous, but I'll miss yelling at him.

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  5. The only thing that matters is what your brother wanted. Good for you for having the strength and integrity to insist on carrying out his wishes despite opposition. He is in good hands.

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    1. A few have mistaken the "integrity" they speak of with pride. Too bad for them, that they can't see the difference. I don't see how someone could betray a person who can no longer do anything for himself, or expect me to do it.

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  6. So sorry for this added burden. It is wonderful though that the people that matter most are there to support your brother's wishes with you. Hugs

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    1. The support of the few that matter is the most wonderful gift anyone can receive at this moment. I feel lucky. In pain, tired, missing my brother, wishing this had never happened, but lucky in the knowledge that what could have been worse didn't get to be.

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  7. I'm sorry you are going through tough times. I'm sorry for your loss. Family support, family unity is what matters now. And your brother's wish of course to be fulfilled.
    Loads of love and warmness from me to you and your family.

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    1. Thanks for the love and the warmth. Those thoughts are always uplifting.

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  8. I hope from now on there will be only peace, unity and love. Once again, i am so sorry for your loss!

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    1. I echo your hope: may we have "only peace, unity and love" from this day on.

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  9. people suck!!! Im so sorry for the loss of your baby brother, following his wishes is what he would've wanted and that is what you are doing, he would be proud of you. Much love and light from our house to yours xxx

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    1. I hope his soul is pleased. I also hope, that eventually, those who are not at peace right now find a place where they can remember his goodness and forget the nightmare we're sharing right now.

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  10. Keep up the good work gorgeous witchy woman...you do your brother proud! XXX

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    1. I will keep on keeping, and then I'll keep up some more. It's not so hard when so many amazing friends walk through the ordeal with me.

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  11. People are very complex creatures. Each person sees something different in the same person. Therefore, one is a different person to each of the different people in one's life. When one leaves this life they leave behind all these different personas of who they are. The individuals left behind feel they each knew what was best for the "person" they knew and that they knew that person in a way in which no other person did. Which is true.

    Therein lies the seeds of conflict. Once people shake off the fog that blinds them to the feelings of others who have also lost this person, understand the person was known and loved by many in a multitude of personas; then the conflicts lessen, comforting each other ensues, healing begins.

    Your brother's love lives on through all who loved him.

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    1. You are wise. One of the things I've been trying to explain to some, is that just because they saw one aspect of my brother that doesn't mean that it was all who he was. A few people met his wild side, his loud I-can-conquer-the-universe persona. Others got his calm side, the one that wanted the cute home to raise a family with his home. Still others got to see parts of him I don't even know existed... I saw the little brother who always acted like I was the one who was 9 years younger and not him. The brother who would go to the grocery store at midnight to get me fresh fruit, who would get out in a snowstorm to buy me Dominican cake, or to get me tea leaves when my cramps got too horrible...

      I wish we could all sit down and admit that the side of him we got to enjoy doesn't really matter, just that we had him. But I might be wishing too soon. I'll wait and see...

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  12. The logistic of loss can be some of the toughest to get through ~ I'm relieved you're finding a smoother path with companions to help fight of the wolves.
    ♥Sharon

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    1. I've made so many death notifications on my days, helped so many clients make funeral arrangements for loved ones, I thought I knew everything that could go wrong and how to take care of it... I was wrong. Very wrong. But at least I'm learning, right? Knowledge is always a good thing.

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  13. Wise comments posted here... Your brother is so loved, all want to do what they think is right... Pleased they realise doing what he wished is the right action and are supporting you making his requests happen.

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    1. Oh Shelle, I'm so proud of my big brother, of my little brother's wife, and of my dad. I've also developed knew respect for a few cousins (and have started to view others with suspicious eyes, too, but you know how that goes). Things have been rough, they still are, but I think that we are finally helping each other through the worse.

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  14. Hugs. My dad wanted to be cremated. He was - we all knew his wishes. Still, during the memorial service we had people fretting about 'no body.' My siblings and I formed a human wall around mom so those people couldn't visit with her. At some point it became a game, and then a funny game, and then we realized what others wanted (or believed) didn't matter. Sometimes, in the mist of the hurting, a person can lose sight of what matters and they will say or do stupid things. Do what you believe to be right. That's the trouble with being a human- no retakes, no do overs. We make the best with what we've got and we live with the concequences. Don't be like me and tell an 80-something year old aunt to "Fuck Off!" She will probably not hear you, so you'll have to repeat it. Then she'll go into shock because you said something like that at a time like this... Death and grieving - I hate them, I'm sorry you & yours are going through this.

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    1. It is almost creepy to see that our situation (my feelings) have been lived by another in such specific ways. It's comforting, too. If you got through it, so will I and so will my family. I'll try to keep anyone from losing their tympanic membrane. Thanks so much for these words. They made me chuckle, and I needed that this morning ;-)

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  15. You are a precious soul and you are honoring your brother! He is smiling ;o)

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    1. I like to think that his million watts grin lives on ;-)

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  16. I don't get how they can't understand the pain they are causing you and your family. But I am very happy to hear your family is supporting your brother's wishes too. {HUGS}

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    1. I think that grief can create some very dense blind spots. It is the reason why I've been telling myself (and others) not to judge anyone's actions these days. Some people are acting in ways that are alien to them; I think the pain is making them do it.

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  17. It takes an especially strong sister to stick to her guns and want to grant her brother's wishes after he's gone. Especially with the added pain and frustration of arguments and derision. Grief manifests in odd ways in people and while perhaps their opinions are flowing out of that place of hurt, it doesn't make it OK to heap their burdens on you and your family.

    I'm glad that in the end, you get to keep your word and your brother's wishes will be honored. I know he's beaming that giant smile of his your way and lending you all the strength and love a little brother can. Love you Mags.

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    1. It has been tough, Danni. Not the telling the world that I appreciate their opinion, but that they aren't law, but the times when the ones raging are the ones who made the same promise. I'm grateful to the universe (and the selected people) who reminded me to stay strong. For there were times when I almost let it go...

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  18. People always want their own way, whether it was what the departed wanted or not. I know you will see to his wishes, and I am thankful you have people around you who are supporting you. I'm sorry you have to go through this. I'll be with you.

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    1. You know, I've dealt with so many funerals outside my family, but by the gods I never thought things could get so insane. I guess the colors are mighty different when looking from the inside, huh? But things are getting better, thank goodness.

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  19. You are following your brother's wishes and that's all that truly matters. I'm glad your immediate family has your back in your decision. Stay strong and be confident you chose right. ((hug))

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    1. I'm glad, too. And I pray those not so immediate get to understand the same.

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  20. This once again shows how important it is to have everything settled in a realistic and clear way. Written instructions would be best, but I think that many people are afraid of making death real by putting legal words on it. Still I hope that you get everything sorted out in a matter that does not hurt more than necessary. This time is painful enough as it is already.

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    1. Indeed, Diandra. It is one of the main reasons why I've shared with all my family what I wish for me, but have given only someone who I know won't be afraid to fight (who will be able to withstand the blows) the ability to make the last decision. It is difficult to think of one's own mortality, but to leave the prospective mess to another is selfish.

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  21. Im sorry for your lost. Dont let the talk get to you and follow what your brother asked you to do. Family pressure can be a bitch, but I'd say most of the time when we give in we end up feeling really bad about it, because we didnt follow our heart. Be strong. Bless it be.

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    1. Grand "Mama said it would be like this," but deep inside I always hoped she was just trying to scare me and toughen me up. I'm glad for the lessons...

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  22. I think like suddenly becoming rich, Death brings out people's true colors....
    Yours are deep and do not run....

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    1. What you see is what you get, right? And I'm the first one to say that with me what you see won't always make you happy, but you'll get it anyway ;-)

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